Rabid raccoon bites New Haven man

NEW HAVEN — Authorities are warning residents of New Haven, as well as the general public, to be wary of wild animals that act strangely after a rabid raccoon attacked a local man and his brother on Summer Road near New Haven Mills this week.
Larry Buck said he was out walking with his brother, Bob, on the road near his home Tuesday afternoon when a snarling raccoon confronted them. Buck, who has been battling health problems, could not run from the animal.
The raccoon bit Buck’s knee and latched on, but Bob Buck, who was visiting from Minnesota, beat it off with Larry Buck’s cane.
The rabid animal harassed a neighbor’s dog before fleeing again. Another neighbor shot and killed the animal. The Vermont Department of Health tested the raccoon for rabies and reported back the positive results to the Bucks and town officials on Wednesday morning.
“We have been out here 27 years and we’ve never had anything like this happen,” said Buck, who said in the future he would arm himself with OC pepper spray to ward off rabid animals.
State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Bob Johnson said the incident should prompt people to take three steps to be prepared for rabid animals.
“First, vaccinate your domestic animals, including horses,” Johnson said. “Also, avoid wild animals. And have a plan, know who you’re going to call if you get into a situation — a neighbor, an able-bodied family member; there are game wardens and town officials you can call.”
He said Vermonters should call the state rabies hotline if they see or come in contact with potentially rabid animals. The tool-free hotline number is 1-800-472-2437 or 1-800-4-RABIES. There is also information on rabies on the Department of Health website.
If bitten or scratched by a wild animal, Johnson said victims should wash the wound quickly.
“If you can safely confine the animal, do that,” he said. “We want to get any animal tested that has had contact with a domestic animal or human.”
There have been an average number of confirmed rabid animal sightings this year, Johnson said. The statewide count is at 47 in 2010, and it was 67 for all of 2009. There have been five other confirmed reports in Addison County this year: a raccoon in Weybridge on Feb. 12, a grey fox in Middlebury on March 7, a skunk in Ferrisburgh on March 30, a skunk in Vergennes on June 11 and a raccoon in Bristol on Aug. 2.
“If a wild animal is doing something strange, you want to try an avoid it,” Johnson said.

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